As my dear mother quivers over the post box staring in disbelief at the HUGE numbers on her electricity bill, two out of the three dudes in this article's main thumbnail are eyeing off mansions on the French Riviera in Monaco and the last one is hoping to soon secure the Lodge in Canberra.
All three men are high achievers and in my view typical corporate climbers who did so out of sheer alpha male buggery (because that's the only road to get to the top) and along the way none of them learnt anything about humanity except the best techniques on how to exploit it for their own personal gain. Their main aim is to get to the highest level, and although to be perceived as successful is important, essentially reaching this position is the tick on the bucket list. To them, the general population are nothing more than honey bees thinking they're working hard to secure the survival of their kind when, in fact, they are really just accumulating wealth for the keepers. Sure, these masters look down on their honey bees with admiration. They understand the importance of keeping the hive alive, so, they only take most of the honey – not all.
Greed… Andrew Vesey is the CEO of AGL one of Australia's largest electricity providers – they both produce and retail electricity to consumers, which in itself is anti-competitive. This guy, like a true professional market predator, realised how to manipulate the politics of climate change into a magnificent money spinner. He worked out how to manufacture a shortage of electricity through shutting coal power stations thus creating more demand for a limited resource and therefore higher market prices to benefit his shareholders and company's bottom line whilst still looking like the good guy who's "saving the planet". No wonder they pay Andrew $7 million a year because how he managed to capitalise on the energy situation here in Australia is pure genius!
Incompetence… Malcolm Turnbull is the Prime Minister of Australia an ex-merchant banker who got his job using his learnt corporate stealth and tactics to take-over the position of PM after he orchestrated a protracted period of political assassination against the sitting PM (of just 2 years) Tony Abbott. Once acquiring this position, Malcolm (and his tin ear) went on to almost lose the next election despite holding a massive majority at the time and being lorded by the mainstream media. His front bench is riddled with terrible operators who lack individuality, vision, or conviction, and about the only thing they are good at is delivering politically correct sterile workshopped statements over and over in order to appease a bunch of leftist bullies called the Canberra Press Gallery. Bumbling, umming and ahhing Malcolm is the ultimate fence sitter who will be remembered in political history as one of those PM's who offended no one but achieved nothing significant.
Lies… Bill Shorten is the leader of the Labor Party/Opposition in Australia and the epitome of a snake in the grass if you ever saw one. Most people don't like him but (if he doesn't get replaced in the meantime) he'll likely win the next election by default because the current Government is so bad. Bill is an ex-union leader and was a key player in axing two sitting PM's when his party was in government due to his Government's deplorable performance over an excruciating 6 year period and instead of being held accountable himself, amazingly he was chosen to lead the Labor Party – a true indication of how his party is indeed talentless. This talentless gaggle of career politicians are run by increasingly authoritarian leftists obsessed with identity politics and climate change.
They preach these "religious" beliefs to "normie" Australians watching free-to-air TV with such venom that it scares the pants off most and shames them to fall into line lest they be called sceptical bigots. The rewards for supporting Labor (and the Greens Party) are more handouts, which come with less money due to a higher cost of living and fewer freedoms overall. Claiming to stick up for the Aussie battler Shorten and his crew of fake outrage spokespersons are nothing but city dwelling aristocrats who care more for the bludger than any battler.
Pensioners like my mother are going to extreme lengths to desperately save energy. Freezing in their old worn felt armchairs throughout winter covered in blankets with their false teeth chattering out of their clenching mouths as they watch ABC24 preach how the sky is falling, or, sweltering in summer with sweat beading on their wrinkly foreheads all the while peering sadly through the heat-stressed haze in their darkened homes at the relic of a reverse cycle air conditioner gathering cobwebs on the living room wall. Their only respite is to escape the elements by frequenting local shopping centres to take advantage of free cooling/heating whilst aimlessly wandering around in a depressed penniless daze like a horror scene taken straight from the set of The Walking Dead.
Energy poverty sure is real, although if you ask an elitist they'll say, "climate change is the moral challenge of our time…"
Australian's living in Energy Poverty – the FACTS
160,000 Australian households are currently disconnected from the grid because they can't afford to pay their power bills HOW DID IT GET TO THIS!?
460 Queenslanders and 1000 Victorians per week are being disconnected from the grid and 87,000 NSW residents have been forced onto payment plans because they can't pay. A recent report from charity Foodbank SA showed an increase in 35,000 people in South Australia needing food assistance (120,000 up from 85,000 last year). The United States Energy Information Association's study shows South Australia has the most expensive power prices in the world with NSW coming 5th, QLD 7th, and Vic 9th.
The irony is when the National Electricity Market in Australia was formed in the late 1990's Australia had the lowest electricity rates in the world! Fast forward 17 years and in under two decades, our electricity bills have doubled (at least). But here's the real kicker, up until Howard was defeated by Labor's Rudd electricity prices were on par with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) however, once the debate about the Carbon Tax began electricity prices skyrocketed (see the chart below).
Climate change priests and their disciples will make up all sorts of bull to dismiss the rapid rise in power prices over the above period. They say it was the investment in poles and wires or privatisation that caused the increase and whilst these do add cost overall it's clear the forced market favouritism of renewables over fossil fuels actually fueled the explosion in electricity prices.
But let them hammer home the argument that grid maintenance is now the main factor for the rise in prices because it just shows how stupid State and Federal Governments were to privatise the whole grid anyway. What's next, will they privatise Australia's road network making it the responsibility of petroleum companies allowing them to double and triple the pump price by using the excuse that new roads need building and maintenance?
Couple the steep rise in electricity prices with generally large hikes in other utilities like water, rates, tolls, (often linked to higher energy costs themselves) and it's easy to understand why many households are now in mortgage stress or living from paycheck to paycheck. It does get worse though, wages growth (particularly in the private sector) has tanked to the lowest levels in 30 years and the majority of the fall has been in direct correlation with the rise in power prices beginning around 2007/08. During the September quarter (this year, 2017) household spending fell by 230 million dollars and as at the writing of this article financial help agencies are reporting record levels of calls from households requesting assistance/advice to pay bills.
Also wrapped up in these power price rises, initially anyway, was the consumer blame game – big electricity bills was OUR fault because we used electricity willy-nilly. Government aired Ad campaigns Ad nauseam telling us to ditch our power-hungry appliances and to be more frugal with our electricity usage – switch it off at the wall and if it blinks kill it.
At the same time, they (the Govt) were all too aware that electricity usage was actually on the decline! (See chart below) Nevertheless, we swallowed the propaganda (me included) and got a 5-star power rated TV, replaced all our globes with LED, and set the aircon to 23Cº (I see the QLD Premier now recommends a moist 26Cº) but still, our power bills climb like a billy goat up Mount Everest.
The lies and propaganda from renewable energy vested interest groups have been spread thicker than my 11y/o son making a Nutella sandwich (he wouldn't dare toast it as this would add a further 50c to the cost) yet the mainstream media (MSM) hardly murmured or bothered to in-depth fact check. If anything the MSM was/still is complicit in the climate change lie that the world will come to a fast ending unless we take drastic action now. I could give my opinion on why the MSM has done this but that's better left for its own article as it would be too long to explain in just a few paras. And if, at this point in time, you're confused as to how someone like me (a GYO, organic, environment and nature lover) isn't a global warming alarmist, well I'll give a small explanation – not that I owe it – at the end of this article.
Let's keep pushing on with the facts – Australia is the biggest exporter of coal, natural gas, and uranium in the world and we still have many if not hundreds of years worth of fossil fuel left to mine. The rest of the world knows this and that's why they are currently building 583 coal power stations in China, 217 in India, 145 in Indonesia, 71 in Turkey, 84 in Vietnam, 43 in Japan, 100 in Africa, and 1200 overall around the planet (including Germany which is one of the "greenest" countries).
Australia, on the other hand, is scheduled to build no coal power stations at all – absolutely zero – no nuclear no nothing… (as at the writing of this article). In fact, Australia is set to close them down: 3 x power stations in Victoria; 1 x in NSW, and 2 x in QLD with no replacement plans as yet. Since 2011, 6000 megawatts of coal power has left the Australian electricity grid system due to power station closures making energy more scarce and therefore prices higher.
A coal-fired power station could be built within three years and the new high-efficiency low emissions (HELE) coal power stations are being built as you read this all around the world (except here). Under the lopsided Paris agreement, India is allowed to increase their carbon emissions by using cheaper coal-fired power stations fed via coal purchased from Australia. In other words, India is given a free pass to growth on the back of our resources whilst we go backwards and practically de-industrialise.
If the move to renewables was such a great saviour then why does the renewable industry need help? If the aim is to "save the world" and if we could practically get our energy for free simply through a small initial outlay to buy a solar system and battery then why isn't it here already? Because we're all being played for fools that's why. A cost-effective solar system that enables off-grid power equal to what the power grid can supply doesn't exist and even if it did it would be illegal to install it in suburban Australia. There is no choice – you can't elect to go off-grid even if you could. Why is that then? Because the electric cash cow for governments and corporates would cease to exist, that's why.
$3 billion per year of taxpayers money is given to renewable energy schemes as subsidies so that they can out compete coal. Our taxes go up and our country plunges deeper into debt so that we can support an industry that by design increases our electricity bills. It's like paying the bank a monthly fee for them to increase the interest rate on your home loan as insurance against the stock market crashing. I don't get it either.
All this anxiety over a tiny 1.24% – that's the percentage of world emissions Australia causes, which is less than international aviation put together and 21 times less than China. Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel is on record stating that even if Australia cut its emissions down to zero it would make no difference to the so-called reduction in global warming. In a nutshell, the only reason pensioners, young families, lower wage earners, and small business are suffering through exorbitant power prices is so that Australia can virtue signal.
Speaking of virtue signalling, fast food chain McDonald's (loves to virtue signal) but has recently voiced concerns about projected electricity cost rises in local takeaways of over 50% in the next 12 months. This massive price rise potentially means job losses for young people and just like I worry about my pensioner mother I also worry about my children's' future particularly since my eldest has just turned 14 and is hoping for part-time employment as he completes high school.
Australia's unreliable electricity supply
However, power price hikes and money is only part of the problem caused by this obsession into fast-tracking renewables. In our blind desperation to kill off coal, Australians have been told to expect power shortages in the future due to the massive reduction in baseload power.
Anyone who has experienced unreliable electricity for any length of time knows how frustrating it can be just to do the basic things we all take for granted. I lived through the disaster of cyclone Tracy – she hit Darwin on Christmas Eve in 1974 – and I can remember how unstable the grid was after that and how often we had to fire up the small generator to keep the lights on and fridge powered. But that intermittent power supply was caused by a natural disaster and the fault of nobody, unlike now, whereby the disaster of electricity shortages is totally born out of bureaucratic incompetence.
Here in Queensland, the Government is floating the idea of requesting residents to turn off their air conditioners during peak times or at least set them to a sweltering 26C° plus if you purchase a State sanctioned air conditioning unit that can be remotely controlled by the Government you'll get a $400 rebate on the installation cost – wow, how underwhelming. Also, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced a payback scheme whereby residents can receive rebates in the form of movie tickets in return for not using electricity during high demand periods, hmmm, how mental are they? I can't believe I'm actually writing this myself… It's like I've travelled to another dimension where morons now run the world.
Australia is now in the ridiculous position of having the worlds biggest deposits of high-quality coal and gas selling it to other countries so they can produce cheaper energy than us and our Government can't even guarantee domestic power supply. Crikey…
Is climate change or global warming a scam or is it real?
From the evidence I've read, heard, seen, and my own personal experience it's not clear at all that we are in a period of climate change warranting any major concern. Anyone who says that the science on global warming is settled is ill-informed or dishonest. Anyone who says that climate change is purely man-made is pulling your leg and anyone who says we don't need fossil fuels is delusional. I don't have any personal or political ideology influencing my opinion on the subject of climate change, if anything, I would err on the side of nature and the environment (given my solid and public activism against things like pollution, pesticides, etc) but I'm always careful about following a cause out of blind faith.
To the contrary, I'm convinced global warming, if it is real, it isn't as bad as it is made out to be. For a start, reputable scientists have stated the unadjusted climate data (without any fudging or rounding up of the figures) clearly shows the world has not warmed since the 1930's. Also, there's evidence that even if the planet were warming those periods in history when the Earth was a little hotter were boom times with abundant plant life likely due to the extra CO2.
And there is undisputed evidence that the planet has become substantially greener by about 14% in the last 30 years despite the horror predictions by climate alarmists over the past few decades claiming the earth would get browner via neverending droughts and increased natural disasters. Speaking of which, cyclonic events (like the one I was in, Tracy) have not got any worse and you would think that statistically if it were true that climatic disasters were increasing in severity we would have experienced it by now 40 years on from Australia's most powerful cyclone ever but we haven't. We also know that colder weather kills more people through extreme temperatures and viruses such as influenza.
Regardless, the constant scaremongering and false emergency that the Earth is somehow doomed unless we take immediate and drastic action is well exaggerated and I do think level headed scientific experts are finally being able to speak out against many falsehoods to set the record straight or at least reduce the hysteria.
We must be careful not to inadvertently cause more damage through moral crusades no matter how well-meaning. If we make electricity so expensive that poor people resort to cutting down trees and burning firewood in their backyards to cook an everyday meal that's regressive, not progressive. Humans and their well-being are important too and the more that are crushed through rash policies based on ideology or drop in economic status via unforeseen collateral damage due to premature job losses etc, the more social problems will arise, which overall will become worse for the environment.
I want the best for the planet too! I think we can keep striving to clean up waterways, be greener, become more sustainable, protect endangered species, be custodians for our natural wonders, and yes even move more towards cleaner renewable energy, but we need to do it in a way that does not disadvantage any person or quickly enriches anyone either.
What's the projected future of electricity prices in Australia?
The future of power prices in Oz looks awful.
The Turnbull Government just announced a new energy plan for Australia, which aims to phase out subsidies for renewable energy whilst keeping Australia's previous commitments to reduce emissions. Touted as a "game changer" for the energy market by the PM, in reality, it's a disappointing exercise in fence-sitting with some commentators labelling it as "barbed wire straddling" and as uncomfortable as that mental picture paints the details of this new plan really are just as thin.
This "new" plan is too watered down and it feels like the Government doesn't get the urgency about how bad the electricity crisis in Australia has become and what a BBQ stopper it actually is out there in the backyards of ordinary people. When you say "game changer" you should mean it… Game changer to me means a plan to take back the electricity grid, treat it as an essential service and not a profit-making enterprise because at the moment electricity generation is a vulture getting too fat to fly by picking the remaining flesh off the bones of millions of poor people.
Embarrassingly, Australians are supposed to accept hundreds of dollars in electricity price rises over the next three years in order to retrieve a measly $2 per week reduction beginning in 2020. There's absolutely no guarantee attached to this plan to ensure it can actually deliver any savings whatsoever and with the next Federal election due before the plan takes hold it's likely the Labor Party will sweep into government and overturn it anyway.
With the current trajectory pointing towards a Labor landslide win at the next election, Australians can only brace for an even worse plan under a Labor/Greens government. These guys want to push the current renewable target up to 50% (from the current 23%) and re-introduce a tax on carbon plus spend billions more on subsidies for renewables. Electricity prices are already prohibitive under the current system so imagine how bad they'll get under a Labor/Greens alliance. We're truly stuffed…
Governments picking winners in the energy market (solar/wind over coal) is such basic stupidity it beggars belief. It would be like forcing up the price of corded telephones in the 80's to make mobile phones more attractive so that everyone was forced to walk around with an expensive brick that was barely usable due to poor wireless coverage instead of letting natural market forces evolve as appropriate over time (which they did).
Privatising essential services is also dangerous because you can't trust the corporate world with monopolies – it's just too tempting to exploit the market power and get greedy. Capitalism is fantastic but it's only fair and it only works where there is true competition. There is only one electricity grid, one road network, one railway, one water and sewage supply – it's not like there are two or three pipes or lines coming into a house from alternative competing networks that citizens can switch too. It's complete smoke and mirrors to act like there are many electricity providers to choose from because if they are all getting their energy from the same sources delivering through the same system then for all intents and purposes they are the same.
An exception to the rule could be the essential service of telecommunications since natural competition to the old landline arose due to mobile phone usage. We now have several other lines of communication (including internet) and this competition has either reduced the cost of telephone calls or kept them stable regardless of maintenance or new infrastructure costs. So see, it can be done.
Seriously, I know there are influential people (mostly living in Melbourne CBD) who are pushing for more funding towards renewables but the average person simply can't afford the extra cost burden. How about an option that allows those who want to support renewables can do so by electing to pay a higher rate of electricity than everyone else? I'm sure all those rich virtue signalers would love such a scheme. Meanwhile, I think we should give pensioners (aged and disability) a 50% discount on their power bill regardless of how much they use – why not? We already piss billions up against the wall on other things and perhaps this huge extra welfare bill will be an incentive for Federal and State governments to find a real solution to high energy prices and then we can all benefit.
Or maybe the government could get back into the energy game, build some power stations and compete against the corporate giants… I'd love to see that! Of course, neither of the two big political parties in Australia would have the guts to make such changes as they all play revolving door to running the country and are practically seat warmers for each other. That's why I won't be voting for Liberal/National or Labor/Greens and instead will park my vote at the next election with any minor party offering an end to this whole energy nightmare.
At the end of the day, something needs to happen QUICKLY to drastically reduce the cost of electricity in Australia. If nothing substantial happens soon, we'll see energy poverty and suffering like no other time in modern economic history in this country.